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Creativity: The Essential Discipline for Entrepreneurs

The world is changing.

And we need more creatives. Period. The good news is that this doesn’t exclude you.

As Dan Pink wrote in A Whole New Mind, right-brainers are on their way to ruling the world. And you can join them, if you take the time to cultivate your creativity.

The Dawn of the Creative Age

The Industrial Age is over. The reign of the factory has fallen.

We now live in an age where conceptual understanding is m

ore important than tactical comprehension. A person’s ability to theorize and hypothesize — to imagine and create — is a more important than one’s ability to manage people or execute a list of tasks.

If entrepreneurs are going to survive this new world, they’re going to have to learn the discipline of creativity.

Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Let’s get one thing straight: an entrepreneur is a “creative.” Creativity is simply the art of starting. And what is entrepreneurship but starting something? The gospel of this new age is that anyone can do this. Anyone can be creative. Here’s how:

1. Give yourself permission to play.

What’s something fun that you really enjoy doing?

Can you do that at work? Why not? Give yourself and your employees (if you have them) permission to play at work.

This jumpstarts creativity in more ways than one. Times of play can unite your team, reinvigorate a stale workspace, and birth new ideas. It may feel like wasting time, but it’s actually an investment into your future work.

If you’re a sole entrepreneur, pick a few activities where you can play and still make a living. Is this a side business or a passion that could be potentially down the road? Have fun and see what happens as a result of your playfulness.

If something good comes about, do it again.

2. Pay attention to your ideas.

Everyone gets ideas. Everyone sees solutions to certain problems.

The trick is recognizing these moments, capturing the ideas, and learning to harness them. When you get an idea, write it down. Take a picture of it. Pull out a digital voice recorder and make a note to yourself. Do something to stamp the moment into your consciousness, so it doesn’t drift back into the ether.

3. Get really good at putting your ideas into practice.

Ideas that never get put into practice are virtually worthless.

The problem with ideas is that we don’t know which ones are good until we try them. And if we’re particularly attached to an idea, it can be scary to try it out, because we risk failure. Which means admitting that the idea we loved wasn’t that good in the first place.

Entrepreneurs know this better than most. You have to begin — to bring something to market — in order for you to know whether or not it’s a viable business opportunity. Most successful creatives have several projects that they’re working on at a given time. Those who are really good at what they do have a peer group that vets their ideas and helps them launch them.

You can do the same with your business ideas — getting several in the hopper and using a community to help you develop them. Get into the habit of launching things — of capturing ideas and experimenting with them to see which ones stick.

And all the while, don’t forget to play. If you’re not sure where to begin, why don’t you start with a brainstorm? My friend Stephen Brewster has an interesting theory called the “The 20 Bad Ideas Rule,” which states that nobody can have 20 bad ideas in a row. Creativity is a numbers game.

Get started now. Start turning out ideas, and eventually you’ll find a winner.

What do you think? Does learning how to be more creative make you a better entrepreneur? Can anyone be creative?

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